Armed home invasion of Sri Lankan journalist couple

Media Release: Sri


August 26 2013        

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) joins partners and affiliates, the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri

Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) in strongly condemning the armed

home invasion inflicted on a journalist couple in Colombo just before dawn on August


FMM and SLWJA report that a group of masked men,

armed with knives and what seemed to be hand grenades, forced their way into

the home of Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema and Romesh Abeywickrema. The men

ransacked the house, took away valuable items including jewelry and, curiously,

closely examined files and documents belonging to the couple.

Mandana is associate editor of the Sunday Leader, and her husband Romesh is

business editor of the same newspaper.

After being tipped off by the couple, police reportedly

challenged the intruders as were leaving the home, shooting one intruder dead

and capturing another two.

Police have described the incident as armed robbery,

but FMM convenor Sunil Jayasekara has suggested the interest shown by the

intruders in the couple’s documents, indicated another motive.

A few days before the armed intrusion the tyres

of the Abeywickrema family vehicle were slashed and the body of a dead cat

dumped on their door step. And just prior to these events, a newspaper known

for pro-government sympathies had been attacking Mandana Ismail, describing her

as “unpatriotic”.

The IFJ Asia-Pacific said: “We are deeply

concerned at these events which bear an eerie resemblance to past incidents of

personal vilification against journalists culminating in a physical attack.

“We call upon Sri Lanka’s Ministry of

Information to urge restraint among the staff of state-owned media outlets and

for them to cease the campaigns of attack and vilification against independent,

public-spirited journalists”.

“Further, we call on the police to determine the

genuine motives behind the attack and prosecute those responsible,” the IFJ


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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